In this show we will be going virtual, as we have done several times before, to explore two more aspects of the impact of the digital revolution. When he’s not podcasting, my co-host, Laurent Borgmann spends a great deal of his time encouraging his students to try a period abroad either as a student or as an intern but what about the idea of virtual mobility? I talked with Eva Abramuszkinová who is part of a European project which is trying to make it easy for students to be able to take part of their course at another university but virtually.
Fortunately for Laurent there are still many students who prefer to experience their mobility in the real world and it is for these people that the University of Portsmouth in the UK has developed an orientation game called C-Shock. The idea is that in playing the game you find out important things about being a student in the UK, such as normal behaviour in student accommodation, outside in public, everyday clothing and personal space. But does it work? I got a guinea-pig to try it out with me. And as you can hear, the consequences can be quite serious!
Why would a university student choose to take part of a course as a virtual student rather than travelling abroad and getting the whole immersion experience? That was one of the questions I had for Eva Abramuszkinová from Newton College in the Czech Republic. The intercultural survival kit for the Ready for Virtual Mobility project can be found here.
A common dilemma in intercultural communication training is whether it should be culture specific (about one specific culture) or culture general. And by culture specific, we usually mean those types of courses which try to prepare you for work in Japan, India or some other specific location. But this is looking at culture specific from one end of the telescope. At the other end of the telescope is the receiving culture and there, the problem is, how do we prepare people from all over the world, to cope with living and working in exactly this place? The University of Portsmouth in the UK has tackled this challenge in part by making a culture orientation game called C-shock available online. Presumably the idea is that prospective students play the game to find out more about the UK and university life before they arrive or maybe even before they make a decision to come to the UK as against any other country. I explored C-Shock with my daughter who is a little microphone shy. So, useful? Accurate? I’d love to know what you think. Why not go to www.c-shock.com and try out the game yourself then leave a comment on our blog about how you did, whether you learned anything new or how it plays as a game. Or if you are a teacher you could give us some ideas about how to include this game in a lesson or project.
The next show will be coming to you on 10 July from Germany.
So long…stay tuned!
The host of this show is: Anne Fox
Editor: Jan Warnecke
We always try to find stories that carry a message either because they demonstrate strategies how we could make our own lives more intercultural or how you can develop a better understanding and heightened awareness of the intercultural needs and worries of those people around us who have chosen to or have to live between different cultures.
Today we ask the question: are expats always experts? When you live in a foreign country for a while, people expect you to know the language and at the same time they expect you to keep your native language on a high level. Apparently the same is true for cultures. When you have lived in a country for a couple of years people expect you to know about the politics, the everyday life or television shows in that country. However, they also assume that you keep in touch with your native culture and know what is going on there. Is it fair to expect these migrants to master two languages on a high level and even be knowledgeable in two cultures? Fair or unfair, we simply seem to expect these people to speak two languages and know a lot about our culture without ever losing touch with their own – because we will always see them as experts on their home countries.
I decided to discuss this phenomenon with a lecturer at our university, Jean Lennox, who has lived in Germany for a long time but is originally from England. I found out that she sometimes listens to Al Jazeera English radio station because they explain British politics from the outside which is easier to understand when you do not live in the country. I asked her whether the expectation that she should be knowledgeable about everything that is going on in Germany, but also in her original home country such as politics, television shows or even sports puts her under any pressure at all when she talks to friends in Germany or when she returns to her home town Manchester in England.
Many people notice that when they are far from home they are expected be able to talk intelligently about politics, geography and everyday life in their home countries, or in some cases even about the continents they come from. This also happened to Francis Benson, who is from Ghana in Africa. He left his country and went to live and work in Japan. At this distance everybody suddenly expected him to know things about the whole continent of Africa.
Thomas Brown grew up in the Austrian and British culture. He is a person who has actually managed “to stand up to the international expectations” and adopted not only two cultures, but also two native languages. Although his main language up until the age of five was German and he spoke German with his mother, brother and sisters he does not remember what it felt like to switch between the languages. He did not even notice that the language spoken at home was different from the one in the street and only started to appreciate bilingualism as a teenager when he first found out that his command of two languages could help him impress the girls.
The next show will be coming to you on 26 June from Anne Fox in Denmark.